ALL CAPS, BABY

My old section at the bookstore, you know for school.

My old section at the bookstore, you know for school.

So, yesterday I had an hour to kill in between “things that I do.” Freelance writing sounds way cooler when I don’t actually tell anyone what my day looks like.

Everybody would be like “I’m sorry, how is that work?” and “Is your cat really your editor?”

But whatevs.

I decided to kill an hour in the bookstore. It was glorious.

I rarely have time to go to the bookstore anymore now that I’m a mom and when I am there, I am usually in the kids section. Which is totally cool, because sometimes Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman are all my brain can handle.

I am Sam.

Sam I am.

Woah.

Mind blown.

Yesterday, however, I wandered into the self-help and psychology sections just like I did years ago when I was in my graduate program (my degree was in Clinical Psychology, so I had to browse that section regularly back in the day. Oh, you thought I was in that section for myself? Ha! No, no…I didn’t need any help myself. I was doing research. Yes, lots and lots of research).

Wait. Did you hear that? Did I write that out loud?


Brain cells, right. Okay, so here I was in the Psychology section and looking at all the titles that I had read once before and remembering that one time several years ago I interviewed for a job at a bookstore – with a fresh Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, mind you – for some part time work.

I filled out my job application in neat ALL CAPITAL letters because that’s how you get jobs that you don’t need a resume for. It’s that first impression, right?

Good handwriting equals full-on bookstore, writer, reading-nerd, awesome employee.

Or not.

I didn’t get the job. I didn’t even get a call back. No one was impressed with my ALL CAPS or my fresh graduate degree.

No one cared that I had student loans to start paying on and internships that don’t pay squat.

Wait. Am I still talking out loud?


After a few minutes reminiscing about my lost bookstore job, I sat in the coffee shop and right next to me one of the managers was interviewing a chipper young man who clearly loved books. I think he was interviewing for a spot in the cafe. As she wrapped up the interview, the manager asked if he had any questions. The hopeful young man offered a meek “will there ever be a chance that I can come out here and you know, help with the books?”

I mean.

The kid loved books…let him come out here and sell the books or stack the books or smell the books, but come on!

The manager muttered a curt “maybe” and that was it. Interview over.

It was a valid and serious question.

Many years back, I was serious about selling books and my ALL CAPS.

I didn’t apply for a job I didn’t want. I didn’t write in ALL CAPS because I’m an overachiever who is a little obsessed with penmanship and filling in blanks.

Fine. I totally am.

The point is that sometimes your efforts don’t really matter to an employer. Sometimes they just need someone to do what they want them to do.

Not sell the books, but sell the coffee. Not fill out a neat job application paper without barbecue sauce drippings, but be on time and sell the coffee.

Don’t take it personal. It usually isn’t.


In hindsight, the bookstore may not have been a good fit for me as an employee. But as a customer, I still love it.

Next time I’ll tell you about my job interview at The Gap which also ended in no job and the tryout I did at Disneyland which not only ended in no job, but a great deal of embarrassment.

Until then, keep up the good fight. Keep applying for work. Keep asking questions. Even keep the ALL CAPS if you like.

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Categories: All The Rest

1 reply

  1. Great article, as usual.

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